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Walking is one of the greenest ways to get around. It’s healthy for us and healthy for the environment, and all it takes is two feet and a sense of direction. And yet, so often in big cities, we’re just so caught up trying to get to the next destination that we forget the collective impact of walking. As any street photographer will tell you, the pitter patter of our movements, especially in a big city like New York or Shanghai, creates a beautiful pattern when you pause to pay attention.
A post on Colossal turned me on the work of Chinese artist Jody Xiong, who’s collaborating with the China Environmental Protection Foundation. Xiong placed large white canvases on 132 crosswalks in 15 cities in China. As each person crossed, they picked up a small amount of green paint on their shoes, which they left as trails on the canvas. These trails, in turn, created a green tree pattern that grew steadily over the course of the installation.
It’s a lovely concept, and though it could work in any major city, the installation carries particular resonance in a country whose citizens are increasingly using cars to get around. According to the video above, the China Environmental Protection Foundation was looking for “an attention grabbing tactic to urge everyone to do their bit for the environment.” It’s certainly gotten my attention, and from what I can glean, it got others talking too.